Risk of Gestational Diabetes Goes Up With Each Pregnancy

Women who faced gestational diabetes once are at a higher risk of facing the illness again with each additional pregnancy a new study says. Suffering through diabetes while pregnant can case many additional health problems for a woman and her child.

Researchers for Kaiser Permanente studied over 65,000 women, comparing those who did not have gestational diabetes to those who did. What the researchers found was that women who had the illness during their first pregnancy then had an astonishing 630 percent increased risk for gestational diabetes in their third pregnancies. This risk was even higher for women who had diabetes during both first and second pregnancies.

Researchers also compared races to see if and how diabetes might vary there. They found that Hispanic and Asian Pacific Islander women were more likely to suffer from gestational diabetes than other races. This is the first study to compare both diabetes history as well as race to find a pattern.

“Because of the silent nature of gestational diabetes, it is important to identify early those who are at risk and watch them closely during their prenatal care,” said study lead author Darios Getahun, MD, MPH, research scientist/epidemiologist in the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation. “Well-controlled gestational diabetes may prevent complications that result in fetal and maternal morbidity, such as high blood pressure during pregnancy, urinary tract infections, cesarean delivery, big babies, birth trauma, and a variety of other adverse outcomes, including future diabetes.”

In the US, 7 percent of pregnancies face complications due to gestational diabetes. For most women, symptoms do not appear until the second or third trimesters when the body develops a glucose intolerance and is unable to control sugar in the system as effectively. Unchecked sugar levels can lead to health problems both during the pregnancy, and later on in life.

Researchers hope that women and doctors will use this to take a better look at who is more at risk and needs special care during pregnancy. – Summer, staff writer

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About the author


Summer is a mom of three, living life in the slow lane along historic Route 66. She writes, homeschools, gardens, and is still trying to learn how to knit.

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